I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one. Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:12-17)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. (Colossians 3:1-5)
What is the difference between having our hearts set on the world and having our hearts set on Jesus? To answer the question, we must first understand what John meant by the term “the world” (1 John 2:15-17). He was not speaking of the physical world, which is still very good (Genesis 1:31). Nor was he saying that everything in society is hopelessly sinful. Rather, he was speaking of society and culture to the extent that it is ruled by a mind-set focused only on the finite world that is opposed to God. For John, “the world” meant a way of thinking that forgets about God and puts self first.
John wrote that while this worldly way of life may appear attractive to us as Catholic men for a time, it is ultimately unsatisfying, fruitless, and passing away. Some of the fruits of this way of life are listed in Colossians 3:5: “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.” This is in stark contrast to those of us who love God and seek him with all our heart (Colossians 3:1-2).
However old we may be, we are young and vigorous in the Lord (1 John 2:12-14). We have experienced forgiveness of their sins. Our hearts are raised up to understand and taste heavenly realities. We have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ himself. We are forward-looking visionaries who are learning to see our lives and the world around us from a heavenly perspective. With joy and purpose, we dedicate ourselves to advancing the kingdom of God on earth even as we go about our everyday lives.
Christianity is not meant to turn us into dreamers filled with naïve idealism. It makes us into realists. We may see the darkness in the world, but we are also filled with confidence in Jesus’ power to overcome that darkness and establish God’s kingdom.
This is the life in store for anyone who sets out to follow Jesus. Does it sound too good to be true? Does it seem too hard? Do you still find yourself too attached to the things of “this world”? We really can come to know the vitality of the Christian life because Christ is in us. It is not based on our personalities but on the transforming power of his Spirit. It is the result of having a living friendship with Jesus. The more we spend time with the Lord in prayer, the more we say yes to the Lord each day, the more we say yes to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit – the less influence the negative forces of the world will have on how we live.
“Lord Jesus, I am far from perfect, but I want to live as St. John described. I give myself to you. Please fill me afresh with your Spirit. Enable and empower me to love you and serve you more, and to be that Catholic man of God you have called me to be!”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. How does your understanding of the term, “the world,” compare to the Biblical understanding described in 1 John 2:15-17 and in the article? How attractive and how influential are the things of the world in your life?
2. How well are you doing in putting to death “the parts of you that are earthly” that are listed in Colossians 3:5? What steps can you take to do better? What role can other trusted Catholic brothers in Christ play in helping you?
3. Being a Christian does not mean we escape from the world. On the contrary, it enables us to live out our lives in the world more fully as Catholic men. As the article states, “We are forward-looking visionaries who are learning to see our lives and the world around us from a heavenly perspective. With joy and purpose, we dedicate ourselves to advancing the kingdom of God on earth even as we go about our everyday lives. Christianity is not meant to turn us into dreamers filled with naïve idealism. It makes us into realists. We may see the darkness in the world, but we are also filled with confidence in Jesus’ power to overcome that darkness and establish God’s kingdom.” What do these words mean to you? How can you make them a greater reality in your life?
4. The article ends with these words: “The more we spend time with the Lord in prayer, the more we say yes to the Lord each day, the more we say yes to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit – the less influence the negative forces of the world will have on how we live.” If you are in a men’s group, pray for one another at the end of your meeting that each of you would take these words to heart. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.
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